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Court action initiated in controversial cat dispute

A dispute over cats being removed from a Warwick animal shelter now leads to court action initiated by the people who took them.

A dispute over cats being removed from a Warwick animal shelter now leads to court action initiated by the people who took them.

The cats were suddenly moved out of the Care For Animals clinic and PAAWS shelter a week ago.

The shelter's lawyer claims the removal of the cats was a crime.

"We're sad the cats were taken. They were taken in the middle of the night and we don't know where they are or how they're doing. So, I'm concerned about the cats,” Dr. Annette Rauch, who heads the clinic and shelter, told NBC 10 News Tuesday.

Pumpkin Harley, a volunteer who moved the cats, said she and other volunteers moved the cats because they didn’t like the direction the organization was headed after cats from an alleged hoarding house in Pawtucket were brought to the shelter in October.

A temporary restraining order filed in court Tuesday is now keeping the cats from going back to the shelter.

"They’re getting well attended to, their personal needs and they’ve had medical attention," Harley said.

They also filed a court complaint against the shelter, claiming the shelter has made defamatory statements about them through social media comments.

Volunteers claim the shelter wrongfully euthanized cats in its care, and that it was the euthanization of a hoarded cat that led them to remove the other cats from the shelter out of concern for their safety and place them in foster homes.

They argue sending the cats back to the shelter could lead to more being put down.

But Rauch disagrees.

"This shelter has never euthanized cats unless they have untreatable medical problems and can't be brought back to a good quality of life," she told NBC 10.

Harley defending her actions Tuesday, saying what she did wasn’t against the law, affirming the cats should stay where they are.

"The ones that want to adopt, because it’s a beautiful ending to the person that saved them," she said.

Court documents show a hearing on the matter is scheduled next week.

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